Gateway coach Terry Smith knew his Gators would have a long uphill climb this season.
Team leader and Division I recruit Darrell Turner was killed June 23 in a shooting in Durham, N. C. The players are wearing Turner’s No. 25 on their helmets this season and T-shirts designed by assistant coach Greg Scales. On the front is a black helmet with No. 25 on it and wings surrounding it. On the back is Turner’s name and No. 25.
|LOOKING TO THROW—Gateway quarterback Thomas Woodson looks to throw against Penn Hills. Woodson passed for 106 yards and one TD in the Gators 19-13 win Sept. 9.
The Gators, playing with the all-out attacking determination that they learned from Turner, were able to grind out a 19-13 victory over the Penn Hills Indians Sept. 9 at Yuhas-McGinley Stadium.
The Gators, led by 280-pound offensive guard and captain Ryan Doyle, ran 13-times on a 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Patrick Livsey scored from one-yard out to give Gateway a 6-0 lead.
“For the first time in my history as head coach, the offensive line is the strength,” Gators coach Terry Smith said. “They really hit the weight room this offseason. They’ve looked really good as a unit so far. They’re big and there’s depth. We told them that as they go we’ll go.”
Penn Hills’ silky-smooth quarterback Chaz Wittaker found Corey “Young Money” Jones in one-on-one coverage. The shifty Pitt recruit electrified the crowd by criss-crossing the field that had the Gateway defense crashing into each other. Jones, in Spiderman fashion, took the rock 60 yards to the house giving the Indians a 7-6 lead.
“Corey Jones is the quickest player in the WPIAL,” said Penn Hills defensive back coach Demond Brock. “He is a shutdown cornerback, a game changing receiver and the best kick returner in the state.”
Gateway’s Thomas Woodson, who was wounded in the North Carolina shooting but has since recovered, threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jaymar Parrish to give Gateway a 12-7 lead but Whittaker tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Savon Salter and the Indians led 13-12 at halftime.
In the second half the Gator defense shutout Penn Hills and recorded 6 quarterback sacks. In addition to losing Turner, Division I recruit Jaylen Coleman, who played at Peabody through last season and enrolled at Gateway is no longer with the team.
“From the start of summer, the linebacker position went from a true strength of our team with tremendous depth to still a strength but with a lack of depth,” Smith said. “Losing Division I players were a big hit to that unit. But it’s still a strong unit led by senior captain Haakim Oliver.”
The only quality that guarantees success in sports is the willpower to stick it out when everything in you wants to quit. An ancient Roman poet said, “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”
“We’re in great shape, and that’s the foundation of our team,” said Smith. “We’re going to out-condition our opponents, and that’s shown in the first two games.”